That was the month that was: January 2024

Former Edinburgh bosses find new jobs, and Scotland women players highlight shocking funding gap compared to men's game

Richard Cockerill is the new head coach of the Georgia national team and its Black Lion club side. Image: © Craig Watson -
Richard Cockerill is the new head coach of the Georgia national team and its Black Lion club side. Image: © Craig Watson -


Georgian challenge for Cockerill

Former Edinburgh coach Richard Cockerill has been confirmed as head coach for the Georgian national side. He will lead the team in the upcoming Rugby Europe Championship, a competition the Georgians have won every year since 2018. In addition, he has taken the reins at the Black Lion franchise, which competed in the European Challenge Cup, taking a narrow defeat bonus point against Gloucester and posting an impressive win over Scarlets.

Four-year ban for Springbok drugs cheat

The South African Institute for Drug Free Sport has handed former Springboks stand-off Elton Jantjies a four-year ban for using a prohibited substance. Last August he tested positive for Clenbuterol, a drug that is used as a performance enhancer. The time has now passed for Jantjies to appeal, and the suspension has been confirmed. It is likely to be career ending for the 33-year-old, who was a member of the Springbok squad that won the 2019 World Cup.

McLean signs up for American outfit

Former Scotland and Glasgow Warriors winger Rufus McLean has signed for Super Rugby Americas side American Raptors. The 23-year-old, who was capped three times, was sacked by Scottish Rugby after being convicted of abusing a former girlfriend. He was born in the United States and will be eligible to play for US Eagles in July 2025. Colorado-based Raptors no longer compete in the top-tier MLR tournament.

Six Nations Countdown Part 1: France and Ireland to get ball rolling in clash of titans

Six Nations Countdown Part 2: Italy and England seek a change of trajectory

Premiership Team-of-the-Week for Round 17

Diamond appointed to Falcons role

Newcastle Falcons have named Steve Diamond as consultant director of rugby, a role that is similar to the one he held at Edinburgh last season. He replaces Alex Codling. Diamond will combine the Falcons job with a consultancy role at the RFU. It is a return to the Premiership for the 54-year-old, who was in charge at Worcester Warriors when the club went out of business.

Peyper calls time on reffing career

Jaco Peyper has retired as a rugby referee at the age of 43. The South African suffered a leg injury during the World Cup quarter final which pitted Wales against Argentina in October. That forced him to withdraw from his Guinness Six Nations commitments and announce that he is hanging up his whistle after taking charge of 67 test matches. He will now focus on his business interests.

Rugby players heading for NFL

While Louis Ress-Zammit bagged all the headlines for his decision to quit rugby for American football, he is not the only player making the switch. Harry Mallinderson of the soon-to-depart Scottish Rugby performance director, Jim – is also joining the NFL International Player Pathway programme. Mallinder, an age-group cap for England, spent seven seasons at Northampton Saints, before moving to Japan in 2021 to join Black Rams Tokyo.

US taking action to develop home talent

A new franchise, Anthem Rugby Carolina, will join the US MLR as an ‘expansion club’. The team, based in Charlotte, North Carolina will help to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of the Toronto Arrows and the New York Ironworkers due to financial problems. Anthem aims to help develop US-qualified players drawn from other MLR teams.

Women appeal for equipment sponsorship

While women’s rugby is enjoying growth in player and spectator numbers, the case of Scotland star Chloe Rollie shows that there is still much work to do to before it is treated equally with the men’s game. The Exeter Chiefs full-back launched an appeal for equipment sponsorship to help provide the boots she needs to see her through the season. The 28-year-old has now received that support from members of the public. However, there is clearly a wider problem as evidenced by Rollie’s international colleague Lana Skeldon who revealed that she has a similar difficulty when it comes to securing a boot sponsorship deal.

Dupont’s reputation cuts no ice with sevens colleagues

Antoine Dupont is among the most talked about players in world rugby, is French captain, and was named global player of the year in 2021 then short-listed in each of the two following seasons. But when it came to joining up with his sevens colleagues to start preparing for this summer’s Olympics, the 27-year-old was treated like any other newcomer, as this video shows:

Six Nations Countdown Part 2: Italy and England seek a change of trajectory

About Colin Renton 281 Articles
Colin has been a freelance writer on various subjects for more than 20 years. He covers rugby at all levels but is particularly passionate about the game at grass roots. As a fluent French speaker, he has a keen interest in rugby in France and for many years has reported on the careers of Scots who have moved across the Channel. He appreciates high quality, engaging writing that is thought provoking, and hopes that some of his work fits that bill!